By on October 24, 2018

2016 Tesla Model S, Image: Tesla

Back in September, the House of Elon decreed the Model 3 would be available in fewer colors, an apparent effort to streamline production of the company’s first high-production model. By restricting two of the seven hues – Obsidian Black and Metallic Silver – to special request status, it is arguable easier to move more machines out the factory (tent) door.

Now, option limitations are being applied to the megabuck Model S and X as well. Musk announced yesterday – via tweet, of course – that “many” interior configurations will not be available after the end of this month.

Your author will opine here that this is a kick in the nadgers to anyone paying near to or in excess of $100,000 for a new vehicle. Such a sum at just about any other automaker will assure shoppers a wide variety of options. In Ingolstadt, the Audi Exclusive program allows access to a wide portfolio of paints, leather colors, and wood inlays.

But back to Tesla. It wasn’t wholly surprising when the company chopped the number of readily available exterior shades on the Model 3; after all, when one is trying to make as many of the things as possible, a smaller number of colors being loaded into the paint gun will surely speed things up. The move is a bit surprising on the X and S, given their lower production numbers and higher price tag.

Right now, the Model S and X P100D interiors can be configured as black with brown ash wood trim or white with dark ash wood trim. Both colors can, for $250, have carbon fiber trim substituted for the wooden inlays. That’s a quartet of options, then.

On the 100D and 75D, customers are #blessed with black textile seats and dark ash trim as standard equipment. For extra cheddar (to the tune of $3,300), one may select from the “Premium” menu:

  • white with dark ash trim
  • black with brown ash trim
  • ibid but with a tan headliner
  • cream with light trim

Layer on the choice of carbon fiber, and that’s no fewer than eight different interior configurations, nine if you count the textile option. That is a lot.

It would not be surprising to find at least the cream color to have vanished after the end of this month, along with perhaps the black/tan headliner combo. However, given Musk’s use of the word “many” to describe the number of options on the chopping block, it is entirely possible that selection will be limited to either black or white seats with either dark ash or carbon fiber trim. That’s our fearless prediction.

Henry Ford’s 1909 missive of “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” still applies in 2018.

[Images: Tesla]

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14 Comments on “Hobson’s Choice: Tesla Slashing Interior Options for Big-bucks Models...”


  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    Slashing choices for an interior that already is woefully behind its competitors in quality and execution. Crap, even Cadillac is better in that regard.

    This may be the strongest indicator yet that time and money are running out for Tesla.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Often companies operating in “survival mode” have to make hard choices. To get that balloon over the mountain they have to throw some dead weight out of the basket. For Tesla, that might mean *ending* entirely the production of vehicles that don’t turn a real, countable, profit.

    But hey, this is Tesla, so expect the share price to appreciate at least 10% on this announcement.

  • avatar

    They should just call it the Model T.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Is Tesla perhaps having trouble with suppliers of certain interior components? Perhaps the suppliers are not getting paid, or being asked to chop their prices, and as a consequence have told Elon that they no longer need his business.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Since most cars come with one or maybe two interior colors even four choices would be considered “many” these days. This makes sense for vehicles that are mostly sold off a dealer’s lot. However Teslas are built to order so I would assume a range of choices would not affect production. So I think a supplier side issue makes sense. Could also be a warehousing or inventory management problem. Logically if certain combinations are not selling that well Tesla would be wise to just eliminate them.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        In Tesla’s price class the average interior colour options number must be well over 20 including the super-exclusive ‘individual’ lines.

        (At least in Germany) The basic BMW 5-series sedan (I checked 520i) has at least 10 basic colours, plus multiply that with almost the same number of contrast detail options. Many of those have different overall interior designs and different kinds of leather.

        At least nine different interior accent options.

        At least two different steering wheel designs. Several seat types: standard, sport and comfort. Several outside trim options for the chrome trim.

        15 different exterior paint options.

        Buttons in chrome or ceramic finish.

        BMW now has more choices in its exclusive ‘individual’ trim choice lineup than Tesla has in all of its model lineup. Hell, a small, cheap Mini hatchback can be specced in so many more choices than super-expensive Teslas that it’s hard to put a number on it.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        JMII – or certain combinations have sold pretty well and they are out of stock and the supplier isn’t providing more until they get paid.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      I guess they’re down to using the fabric from their production tents for the interiors…

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Early Model Ts came in a range of colors. It wasn’t until HF really started cranking them out of Highland Park in the mid-teens that they went monotone. Then, at the end of the model run, the last couple years saw color choice available again.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The “all Model Ts were black” myth is one that won’t die.

      Years ago I was flipping through a book (a big book) on the Model T in Barnes and Noble, and there was a few pages dedicated to a barn find T that had been stored almost since new, and the paint had runs that appeared to show that many body parts were dipped in paint rather than being sprayed, and the top (this one was a touring car) had poor quality stitching that showed evidence of the assembly line being rushed.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    True luxury is getting a product tailored to you. These cuts might work in the Model 3 but don’t pass muster for someone laying out the big bucks for an Model S or X.

  • avatar

    unsafe at any color.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Henry Ford’s 1909 missive of ‘any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black’ still applies in 2018.”

    Ford said that in 1909, but it wasn’t implemented until 1914, when all Ts were first painted black, into 1926, when other color options reappeared. Before 1914, black wasn’t even an option – Ts were first offered in gray, green, blue, or red, depending on body style, and all cars in 1912 and 1913 were midnight blue, with black fenders.


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